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Family Matters: Halloween for Pets


Halloween is a fun time for the whole family – except, sometimes, for your pets.

Although some animals, especially dogs, love costumes and parties and parades of trick-or-treaters, other pets get irritated or anxious about all the commotion. And the holiday can bring some risks for pets, too. Our friends at Purina, along with the experts at the ASPCA, offer some tips on keeping your four-legged friends happy and healthy during this festive time:

Costumes? Maybe not. Dogs are often willing to play along and wear a costume, especially if they wear sweaters or other clothing during cold weather. But don’t force the issue if your dog seems scared or exhibits anxious behaviors, like whining or licking, while wearing it. Make sure any costume does not limit your dog’s mobility, including use of his tail, or obscure his vision. Most cats are far less likely to suffer the indignity of a costume; unless your cat is very easygoing, it’s probably best not to try.

If you really want to play dress-up, almost all dogs (and even most cats) will happily wear a decorated collar or even a bandana, since they’re already accustomed to wearing collars.

Safe decorating:  Don’t let your curious cat get too close to a lit jack-o-lantern or lit candles including Halloween-themed luminaries. They can easily knock one over and start a fire, or even burn their tail or ears. If you want the glow of illuminated pumpkins, look for battery-operated synthetic ones, but avoid those with electrical cords, which animals may play with or get tangled up in, creating a risk of strangulation or even electric shock.

Watch the treats. Watch where you leave the candy intended for trick-or-treaters, especially if it is something you don’t normally keep around the house. Dogs may seize the opportunity to dive right in. And if they’re not too discriminating, they may eat the wrappers right along with the treats, posing choking hazards and intestinal issues.  In large doses, chocolate can even be toxic to dogs. So make sure candy – including the haul your own children bring home – is not left unattended. Put it in a high spot or a closed cabinet that animals can’t reach.  If you want pets to join in on the festivities, get them their own favorite treats, like Beggin’ Strips for dogs and Friskies Crispies for cats.

Meeting and greeting.  Even if you think your very social pet would love to help you greet trick-or-treaters at the door, it’s better for everyone if animals are secured during festivities.  Cats should stay in their kennel or a quiet back room. Dogs should be kept in their crate or in a back room during the busy part of the night, or at least on a leash.

Loose dogs may get frightened and snappish, or may get over-excited and jump on young guests – which can be traumatic for both parties. And, both dogs and cats may take the opportunity to make a break for it and slip out through an open, unwatched door. That’s bad news when there are lots of children and extra traffic in your neighborhood. Finally, do not leave animals unattended in the back yard. The extra noise in the neighborhood may traumatize them, and you don’t want them to be targeted for teasing or worse by pranksters with bad intentions.

Keep your pet safe and you’ll all have a happier Halloween!


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